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In Search of Famine (1981)

Akaler Sandhane (original title)
A film crew comes to a village to make a film about a famine, which killed five million Bengalees in 1943.


Mrinal Sen


Amalendu Chakraborty (story), Mrinal Sen
5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Satya Banerjee Satya Banerjee
Radhamohan Bhattacharya Radhamohan Bhattacharya ... Teacher
Dhritiman Chatterjee ... Movie Director
Reba Roy Chowdhury Reba Roy Chowdhury
Dipankar Dey
Sreela Majumdar Sreela Majumdar ... Durga
Devika Mukherjee Devika Mukherjee
Smita Patil ... Self
Gita Sen
Rajen Tarafder Rajen Tarafder ... Haren


7 September, 1980. A film crew comes to a village to make a film about a famine, which killed five million Bengalees in 1943. It was a man made famine, a side- product of the war, and the film crew will create the tragedy of those millions who died of starvation. The film documents the convivial life among the film crew and the hazards, problems and tension of film making on location. The actors live a double life, and the villagers, both simple and not-so-simple folk watch their work with wonder and suspicion. But as the film progresses, the recreated past begins to confront the present. The uneasy coexistence of 1943 and 1980 reveals bizarre connection, involving a village woman whose visions add a further dimension of time-that of future. A disturbing situation, indeed, for the "famine-seekers"! Written by Swarup Basak

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User Reviews

Acute Protein Deficiency
5 December 2010 | by sourish-chandaSee all my reviews

"Cut!, Cut!, Cut!, Cut!" One of the remarkable scenes of the movie is a group of village boys running after the film crew bus shouting and mocking the way the director officially ends a shot. It is apparently, not much and only a 5 sec shot. However, 5 sec is long enough for people like Mrinal Sen to turn an innocent childish errant into much more purposeful. The word symbolically sharply demarcates between what is it in the movie and what is in the reality. The film crew was shooting famine which should have ended with the utterance of "cut" yet it leaks into the other side of the camera even though half century has passed since then and India supposedly progressed a lot. It is a slap and a mockery on the failure of the system done in the most subtle way. If a 5 sec shot can communicate all these, then think of what the full movie can do?

Famine is not about lack of food but it also about lack of morality rather the breakdown of values. Famine unleashes the dormant opportunist in the most corrupt and bigot way. Yet amongst such devastation there could be island, there could be people who despite of the hardship can still be empathetic, can still be humane. The movie is reap with many such examples. That's the reason it is a humanistic movie as Mrinal Sen himself is humanistic intellectual.

Unlike his contemporaries, his movies often end without a definite answer and leave the audience guessing. It is a bold experimentation to deliver a scratching message. The striking characteristic of "Akaler Sandhaney" is also that the making of the movie itself and the process of story telling is done in the most informal way. To the audience it it is more a like documentary capturing a set of unrelated events that happened to a film crew than a a feature film itself. His movies is mainly a feast for the mind, appealing and engrossing to your intellect and less so to your senses.

It has an additional value that it is only handful of movies that reminds us of the 1943 Bengal famine where 5 million people just perished due to lack of food (as mentioned in this movie itself)

Dhirtiman, Smita Patil and Rajen Torofdar (Himself a great director) all deserve special mention without which this review will be incomplete.

A must for the film school

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Release Date:

7 January 1981 (India) See more »

Also Known As:

In Search of Famine See more »

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Production Co:

D.K. Films See more »
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